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The first Shabbat of the year: May we merit to change‏‏

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Welcome to the first Shabbat of 5783, a momentous day to be sure.
First of all, our sages say that this Shabbat has an impact on all the other Shabbatot throughout the year. Therefore it is customary to recognize and honor this Shabbat in a special way, to add something extra -- an upgrade -- to it.
The Torah portion we read on Shabbat is Vayelech, among the shortest Torah portions of the year. Moshe Rabbeinu bids farewell to the people, speaks of our eternal connection to the Torah, and introduces Yehoshua bin Nun as someone who will follow in his footsteps as the next leader of the nation.
This is also the last Shabbat before Yom Kippur. It is known as Shabbat Teshuvah (Shabbat of repentance or return) and the haftarah that is read contains many passages pertinent to teshuvah.
On Shabbat afternoon, it is customary in the synagogue to hear sermons that address the topic of teshuvah. Rabbi Yaakov Edelstein zt"l once delivered the following words on Shabbat Teshuvah in Ramat HaSharon:
"These are days in which we tend to summarize what occurred last year in the world instead of looking inside to see what happened to us. Someone once said that in his youth he wanted to change the world. He later saw that this was difficult and decided to change only the people in his country. Still later, he decided at least to change the residents of his city. When he failed, he tried to change the members of his family alone. Finally, he understood that he must first change himself. And then, when he worked on changing himself, he slowly began to change his family, his city, his country and the entire world. Changing the world starts with changing ourselves."
May we merit to change. Shabbat shalom.


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